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Crying in the Night So Many Tears

MOVIE REVIEW
The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence) (2011)

The-human-centipede-2-full-sequence-ashlynn-yennie-laurence-r-harvey
IFC Midnight

Tom Six promised that “The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)” would make the first installment “look like My Little Pony.” By shunning the implied grotesqueness of the mad-scientist-gone-mental farce of the first “Human Centipede” in favor of in-your-face graphic violence, streams of blood, feces and gore, Mr. Six has done just that. Yet, whereas the original verged on the fantastical and as a result was laughable at times, Mr. Six seems determined to push the boundaries of taste further than ever before and as such there is very little of that lightness of touch here.

Much has been made of the B.B.F.C.’s decision back in the summer to refuse the sequel a certificate, claiming that Mr. Six’s film was “sexually violent and potentially obscene” and that “no amount of cuts would allow them to give it a certificate.” Well, all this was of course a publicist’s wet dream and presumably achieved what Mr. Six set out to do in the first place by creating a media storm around the title which would have garnered little attention without such a furor. In fact, Mr. Six marketed his film elsewhere with the proud boast “Banned in the U.K.”

Yet in October, the B.B.F.C. relented, granting the film an 18 certificate, but only after forcing 32 cuts, excising a total of 2 minutes 37 seconds from its running time. Sandpaper masturbation, forced defecation into another person’s mouth, barbed-wire rape and the gruesome death of a newborn baby are just some of the delights that thankfully ended up on the cutting room floor.

Despite the censor’s best efforts, “The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)” still manages to contain some of the most repulsive moments ever committed to celluloid. That said, the film isn’t a complete write off, and for the first half at least teases the audience into believing, nay hoping, that Mr. Six might actually have made a good film.

Martin (a perma-sweaty Hobbit-esque Laurence R. Harvey) is a security guard at an underground car park. He lives in squalor with his utterly barmy mother (Vivien Bridson) who is seemingly intent on offing the both of them at any given moment. In an attempt to escape his depressingly banal existence, wheezy Martin seeks solace in Mr. Six’s film, “The Human Centipede (First Sequence),” a very postmodern plot device if there ever was one.

Martin is insular, silent and excitable, reveling in the gory detail of Mr. Six’s picture, documenting its intricacies in a scrapbook and even keeping a centipede as a pet. But it’s clear he also has severe issues which are the manifestations of an abusive past. Pushed to the brink by his bullying mother, who blames him for her husband’s imprisonment (presumably on account of his sexual abuse of Martin), he snaps and in a moment is fueled by a determination to recreate Dr. Heiter’s (Dieter Laser) experiments of the first film, only bigger and better.

Cue Martin spending an inordinate amount of time bopping would be victims over the head with a crowbar. While Martin has by now revealed his propensity for extreme violence, these crowbar knockouts are decidedly tame — almost amusing in fact. Up to this point, Mr. Six delivers a slow burning tale populated with some interesting characters (Bill Hutchens turn as Dr. Sebring warranting particular mention), so it’s almost a shame that Mr. Six is so insistent on dragging us back to ass-mouth human centipede gruesomeness just when things were getting vaguely interesting.

So with victims acquired, Mr. Six ups the ante as the surgically inept Martin begins his ludicrously bloody procedure. This is also where Mr. Six abandons the implied horror of the first film for sustained and repeated close ups of bisected tendons, dentistry for the insane and buttock carving. It’s relentless; it’s horrifying; it’s vile and at times verges on the exploitative. Just for good measure, we’re then treated to forced defecation, brutal rape and sadistic murder. Yet as the film shuffles towards its conclusion, Mr. Six reserves the greatest insult for his final reel. It’s a dreadful cop-out and perhaps the most offensive aspect of the entire charade.

It’s not all bad, though. First off, the monochrome photography is fantastic; adding an extra dimension to what would have been a deep red bloodbath otherwise. Mr. Six’s screenplay too, although sparse, resembles — for the first half at least — a well observed black comedy. He even finds a neat way of luring one of the first film’s stars Ashlynn Yennie into proceedings. And then there’s Mr. Harvey, who delivers a fine performance as the depraved Martin, a lunatic villain who has to be seen to be believed. It’s a shame therefore that the film falls down so desperately as soon as Mr. Six reverts to type.

“The Human Centipede 2 (Full Sequence)” is an abhorrent film, which is exactly what Mr. Six set out to produce, but it’s not a desperately bad film. Yes, the ending stinks the place out, and it verges on the boring at times; but there are hints throughout that Mr. Six might have a decent film in him somewhere should he ever decide to shelf his centipede obsession. Unfortunately with “The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence)” already in preproduction that “decent film” seems destined to remain elusive for a little while longer yet.

THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 (FULL SEQUENCE)

Opens on Oct. 7 in the United States and on Nov. 4 in Britain.

Written and directed by Tom Six; director of photography, David Meadows; music by James Edward Barker; produced by Ilona Six and Mr. Six; released by IFC Midnight (United States) and Bounty Films (Britain). Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes. This film is not rated by M.P.A.A. and rated 18 by B.B.F.C.

WITH: Ashlynn Yennie (Ashlynn Yennie) and Laurence R. Harvey (Martin).

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